Annie and Michael: Back to sea

Michael and Annie aboard the Wecoma, 2010Michael Courtney and Annie Thorp, “intrepid volunteers” at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, are heading back out to sea  to assist on not one, but two research cruises. And they’re reviving their blog,  Buoy Tales, to chronicle their experiences.

The Salem couple launched the blog (with help from Oregon Sea Grant) in 2010  to record their participation in a five-week cruise aboard OSU’s R/V Wecoma, servicing NOAA buoys along the equator that gather and transmit valuable data about ocean conditions. It was their second cruise as research volunteers.

Recently, Michael writes, they were asked on the same day to take part in two more cruises “so of course we said yes.”

They’ll depart Seattle this Friday (Aug. 29) aboard the Thompson, a research vessel operated by the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography. The ship’s mission is to recover an acoustic device sitting on Pioneer Mount, an undersea range off Half Moon Bay, Calif. The recovery cruise is expected to last until Aug. 9.

On Oct. 3, Annie and Michael ship out again on the R/V Wecoma for a cruise expected to last through Oct. 11.

To follow their adventures, visit the blog and  subscribe to its RSS feed or sign up for email notification when new posts are published.


OctoCam: Live, streaming octopus!

NEWPORT – An iconic celebrity of the central Oregon coast is ready to writhe and wiggle his way onto a computer screen near you.

Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center this week unveiled its new OctoCam, streaming live video of the Visitor Center’s resident giant Pacific octopus to the world at:

Employing two Webcams – one outside and slightly above the tank and one inside the tank – OctoCam treats visitors to a live 24-hour show featuring the resident cephalopod interacting with tank mates and curious on-lookers. Viewers also have the option of watching archival footage of the octopus investigating the camera when it was first installed; more more archival footage will be added periodically.

The giant Pacific octopus, Enteroctopus dofleini , occupies a central spot among the Visitor Center’s many aquatic animal exhibits. The trademark critter has been a favorite of visitors almost since Science Center opened its doors in 1965. Of course, it hasn’t been the same octopus; typically an adult octopus stays in the tank for between six months and two years. Younger octopuses, often donated by local crabbers, are cycled into the tank to replace the older animals, which are then released back into Yaquina Bay to find a mate and spawn.

Many people plan their HMSC visits to coincide with the animal’s thrice-weekly live crab feedings so they can watch this marine predator stalking and pouncing on prey while learning a bit about octopus biology and behavior. Feeding dates and times vary from season to season, and the current schedule is posted on the Center’s Web site (

Getting the octopus on the web took the combined efforts of nearly every program at the Visitor Center as well as OSU Media Services.

Read more …

Archival footage: Deriq investigates the Webcam:

Find us on FaceBook

Name that bridgeIf you haven’t checked out Oregon Sea Grant’s FaceBook page yet, now’s a great time – we’ve just launched a friendly little “name that bridge” competition featuring photos of – and a bit of history about – the historic bridges of the Oregon Coast. (The first photo’s sneaky: Most people would probably recognize this bridge photographed from a distance, so we’re featuring a shot taken from underneath!)

Learn more about architect-engineer-dreamer Conde McCullough and the bridges he built to tie US Highway 101 together from the California border clear to Astoria. If you’re on FaceBook, you can “like” the page and share your own photos of Oregon’s beautiful coastal bridges, too.

(If you prefer your ocean and coastal news in bite-sized pieces, readable from your cell phone or other mobile device, try our Twitter feed!)

NOAA adds Deepwater oil spill site

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched Current trajectory map for Gulf oil spilla new Web site for information about the Deepwater Horizon oilspill in the Gulf of Mexico.

From the site:

“As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA has been on the scene of the BP spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations. We have mobilized experts from across the agency to help contain the spreading oil spill and protect the Gulf of Mexico’s many marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, shellfish and other endangered marine life.”

Along with monitoring and predicting the oil’s trajectory and providing detailed weather forecasts to officials attempting to contain the spill and clean up the oil, the agency is providing aircraft and  marine mammal spotters from its Southeast Fisheries Science Center to assess what species might come into contact with the oil,  and using experimental satellite data from their Satellite Analysis Branch to survey the extent of spill-related marine pollution.

The site contains up-to-date predictions of the oil’s trajectory and maps showing the path of the layers of oil floating on the ocean surface.  It also includes links to the official  Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center, which has detailed information about the spill containment and recovery effort, including information for volunteers.

The  Joint Information Center is also distributing information about the effort via  social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

Volunteers to chronicle Pacific research cruise

Annie and MichaelA pair of volunteers for Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center  cast off next week for a six-week research cruise to the equatorial Pacific – and plan to post their adventures on the Web for for the rest of the world to share.

Salem retirees Michael Courtney and Annie Thorp will join a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) crew aboard the R/V Wecoma on a mission to repair, maintain and, if necessary, replace 14 buoys moored to the seabed several hundred miles south and west of Central America. The buoys are part of an array of 70 positioned along the Equator and stretching clear across the Pacific to north of New Guinea; they gather critical data about tropical atmospheric and ocean conditions and transmit it in real-time by satellite to researchers around the world.

This will be the second cruise for the Salem retirees, who have been volunteering at the HMSC since early last year – and this time, they’ll be sharing the experience with the world via their new blog, Buoy Tales.

Read more …

Follow Michael and Annie’s research cruise blog, Buoytales

Sea Grant “all hands” meeting this week

Oregon Sea Grant’s faculty, staff and funded researchers meet today and tomorrow in Corvallis to share plans and achievements, discuss new initiatives and work on integrating the program’s research, outreach and education elements into the “one Sea Grant” envisioned in the program’s new Strategic Plan.

In addition, a team of communications, Extension and education specialists will be live-blogging the meeting and presentations as a proof-of-concept for using social media tools  to support our outreach and engagement mission. Check out the blog here – we’ve already posted links to current research on the use of social media in education, along with OSG blogger Rob Emanuel’s extended discussion of his experience integrating social media into his Extension work on the North Coast.

On Wednesday, researchers whose projects have been funded under our 2010-2012 grant cycle will talk about their work in areas ranging from climate change and tsunami hazards to shellfish disease and marine reserves.

After hours, we’ll gather to celebrate the retirement of two long-time Sea Grant professionals: Extension program leader/assistant program director Jay Rasmussen, and Jim Waldvogel, marine extension agent for the northern California and southern Oregon coast.